Monday, 27 February 2017

Movie Review: DON'T BREATHE

Don't Breathe (Movie Poster)

Don't Breathe was released theatrically last year and has recently come out on Blu-Ray / DVD. I wasn't aware of it when it came out at the cinema, but after seeing the trailer, I've been really looking forward to this one.

The film is about a trio of young thieves who have broken into a number of homes, and are planning to embark on one last job together. They have a potential victim who has received a large cash payout and lives alone. They soon find out that he's also blind, but decide to go ahead with the plan anyway. Unfortunately for them, the robbery goes wrong and they find themselves trapped in a house with an ex-military blind man who's armed, skilled and looking to kill them. Will they get the cash? Will they all escape alive? I don't want to give you any further information as no-one likes spoilers. All of the above is in the trailer, so I'll leave it there.

Don't Breathe is as utterly brilliant as it is relentless. It's one of those movies that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout and keeps you engaged with its terrifying combination of violence and suspense. The characters are developed just enough to understand them, and to even empathise with what's effectively a group of remorseless burglars. The real key to the success of this movie is that it is a very good story. It could have quite easily been a sequence of cheap jump scares and gratuitous violence, but Don't Breathe has a depth that sets it way apart from such movies. There are some unexpected turns in the story, and this unpredictability makes for an original rollercoaster of a Thriller/Horror film. It's beautifully shot throughout, and the acting is superb giving it a realism that makes the movie work so well.

It's difficult for me to write too much about this film, as I'm conscious of spoilers. What I will say is that I loved it, and its originality was refreshing. If you enjoy the trailer, you will not be disappointed by the full movie. 

If only all Horror films were this good!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Album Review: BLACK STAR RIDERS - Heavy Fire

Black Star Riders - Heavy Fire

1. Heavy Fire
2. When The Night Comes In
3. Dancing With The Wrong Girl
4. Who Rides The Tiger
5. Cold War Love
6. Testify Or Say Goodbye
7. Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed
8. True Blue Kid
9. Ticket To Rise
10. Letting Go Of Me
11. Fade (Bonus Track)

This is the third studio album from the band formally known as Thin Lizzy. I still think they made the right decision in changing the name of the band when they decided to write and record original music. A new Thin Lizzy album without Phil Lynott would have been like a new Queen album without Freddy Mercury. The "This isn't Thin Lizzy" comments would have relentlessly overshadowed their creative output, whereas now they can move forward with the respect that they deserve. 

I picked up their debut album All Hell Breaks Loose as I'm not only a Thin Lizzy fan, but a huge fan of front-man Ricky Warwick's old band The Almighty. All Hell Breaks Loose was a very good album. My only criticism is that it felt a little contrived. It was clearly written at a time when it was due to be released under the Thin Lizzy name and consequently, had to not only earn that title, but had to win the support of the old school fan-base. It was as though each track was similar to a classic Thin Lizzy song. "Oh, this one is clearly the new Emerald" etc. Whilst I enjoyed it, I didn't feel a burning desire to check out anything further from them. I heard one or two tracks from their second album The Killer Instinct, but didn't pick up a copy. Now the third album has landed, I decided to give it a whirl to see what I thought.

Opener and title track Heavy Fire is awesome. It's heavier and has a more aggressive feel than previous material. In fact, it reminds me more of The Almighty than Thin Lizzy, which for me is a good thing as I genuinely miss that fantastic band. The second track and first single When The Night Comes In is a great heavy Rock n' Roll song and is a shining example of 'Vintage Modern'. The same applies to most of the album. The production is crisp and modern giving it a contemporary sheen, yet the songs are written with a Seventies flavour and wears the classic Thin Lizzy influences without sounding like clones. With this album, they've got it just right.

Heavy Fire is a really impressive album. I believe this release is key to them breaking the shackles of being the band that was touring as Thin Lizzy, and putting Black Star Riders on the map as a key Rock band who are fantastic in their own right. It's certainly rekindled my interest in the band. I'll check out that second album too, and try to catch them on their upcoming tour with Gun and Backyard Babies.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Album Review: SUICIDE SILENCE - Suicide Silence

Suicide Silence - Suicide Silence

1. Doris
2. Silence
3. Listen
4. Dying In A Red Room
5. Hold Me Up, Hold Me Down
6. Run
7. The Zero
8. Conformity
9. Don't Be Careful, You Might Hurt Yourself

I have to confess that I've never been a huge Suicide Silence fan, however I couldn't help but notice the huge internet shit storm surrounding their new single Doris. Thousands of fans have been voicing their disgust over the band's new direction, but it doesn't seem to be producer Ross Robinson's lo-fi sound or slight Nu-Metal tinge that has had them all crying. Instead, it's the presence of a tiny amount of clean vocal in the chorus that appears to be the main target for all the hate. Seriously. The Brutality Police have been all over this one, and I haven't seen this much online rage directed at an Extreme Metal band since Morbid Angel released their highly questionable Illud Divinum Insanus album back in 2011.

Needless to say, I checked out Doris and I actually enjoyed it. That weird little vocal whelp at the start of the chorus that upset the masses gives the song character. It's followed by some Deftones style crooning, which is interlaced throughout the track with the 'business as usual' screaming.

Now the album has landed, and yes, Doris was a good representation of the sound of the whole record. I understand why die-hard fans are upset. Gone is the crisp production of previous releases, and in comes the sound associated with Ross Robinson. I don't think this was a great move. Admittedly, as much as I hated the sound of (the Robinson produced) first Korn album, it was contemporary at the time. That was over twenty years ago though, and this sound has been done to death. It reeks of a band trying to become a little more mainstream and tap more into the fan bases of bands like Slipknot, Soulfly, Korn and Deftones. To my ears Suicide Silence sound dated and desperate. That doesn't mean this won't work out for them though, as I can see this album becoming a huge seller over time.

The songs themselves though are actually pretty good. I'm probably in a minority here, but I quite like lead singer Eddie Hermida's clean vocals, particularly when juxtaposed with his screaming and more harsh percussive styles. The delivery is good but often ruined by too much distortion, thanks to that late nineties style production.

I honestly believe that if this was the new Deftones album, people would herald it as a classic, and say how they have reflected on their early sound but have mixed it with some more aggressive sections making the band as relevant today as they've ever been. Or some shit like that. However, because people expected a certain sound from Suicide Silence, who in fairness have dominated their Death-core niche for some years, there was always going to be a bitter backlash.

It'll certainly be interesting to see if Suicide Silence get bigger, effectively replacing the majority of their fan-base with new people, or if this experiment doesn't pay off and they go back to their old formula and ten years from now refer to this album as their Diabolus In Musica or St Anger.